What is LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy?

Individuals in the LGBTQ community share many common issues, sometimes unrelated to their sexuality and identity. Often times, one might come to therapy with relationship issues, identity issues, self-esteem concerns, and more. Despite the reasons someone might come to therapy, it is important to know that the therapist will be supportive, compassionate, and accepting. The understanding behind LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy is that the therapist will be present with the client and provide a space that feels welcoming and comfortable. It is defined as the acknowledgment and acceptance of the person's sexual orientation and identity, working toward developing a better sense of self, building authenticity, and strengthening one’s voice.

Through LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy, a person can potentially navigate through their life in a more meaningful and constructive way to ultimately reach psychological fitness. Below are some components of LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy:

Creating a Safe Space

Creating a safe space is arguably the most important first step to therapy. LGBTQ individuals should not feel judged or unwelcomed in any place, especially not in therapy where individuals often disclose sensitive and confidential information. To create a safe space, it is important to be aware of one’s needs and wants prior to starting therapy. For example, some clients may prefer a male therapist or someone who is younger and less conservative. Once you are in the therapy room, it might be important to discuss preferred pronouns, special accommodations, and any other things that can contribute to creating a safe space. What seems to be most important to many clients is the trust and alliance that is built into the work. Although it can take time to build the trust and alliance, clients usually have a sense of it early on.

Fostering Trust

Harnessing a trusting environment is a key component to therapy. One must feel that they trust their therapist enough to disclose very personal and difficult issues. Some issues that LGBTQ Affirmative therapists might help with are:

·    Relationship issues

·    Intimacy concerns

·    Dating

·    Coming out

·    Gender and sexual identity

·    Sexual orientation

·    Confidence issues

·    Internalization

·    Trauma

These issues can often lead to negative feelings, so it is important that trust is built in therapy so that the focus can be on helping individuals deal with some of these concerns. A question you might ask yourself after seeing a therapist for a few sessions might be, “Do I feel comfortable with person?” and “Do I get the sense that this person understand my issues?”

Having an Ally

After establishing a safe space and building trust, the therapeutic relationship can hopefully become an alliance where the individual feels that they are supported, connected, and celebrated. Having an ally is an important component to therapy in order to address many of the issues above. By having an LGBTQ Affirmative therapist, the therapy can be catered to the individual’s specific needs and issues. Although individuals can work with any therapist, having a therapist who understands the issues that the LGBTQ community faces can result in a more validating and rewarding experience.

Are you looking for an LGBTQ Affirmative Therapist?

Lucas Saiter is a psychotherapist in New York City. He provides therapy for those struggling with intimacy/relationship issues, coming out, identity concerns, and more. He works in an office located near Flatiron, West Village, NoMad, Chelsea, and Union Square. If you are looking for an LGBTQ Affirmative therapist in NYC, contact him today for a complimentary phone consultation.  

What is the Difference Between a Psychotherapist, Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Mental Health Counselor, Psychoanalyst, and Social Worker?

Finding a therapist that is a good fit is essential to the work you do in therapy and along the way you might find therapists with varying letters after their name. Some therapists offer certain services, in addition to traditional “talk therapy,” such as guided meditation. In this blog, I’d like to offer a brief overview of the different kinds of mental health providers you may encounter. Keep in mind that in the state of New York, for a clinician to practice psychotherapy, they must complete educational (usually at least a Master’s degree) and licensure requirements (typically a certain number of supervised clinical hours and successfully passing an exam). Other states may have different licensure requirements and letters. 

Psychotherapist

            This is a term that is used by all kinds of mental health professionals and is considered an umbrella term. You will find psychiatrists, social workers, mental health counselors, psychologists, and other professionals that will refer to themselves as psychotherapists. This implies that the professional provides psychotherapy or counseling. However, it is not a formal license, and more of an informal way of referring to therapists who evaluate and treat psychological issues. 

Psychiatrist (M.D. / D.O)

            A psychiatrist is a professional who went to medical school and holds a medical degree. They can prescribe psychiatric (also known as psychotropic) medication and typically focus more on medication management. Typically, psychiatrists are not trained in providing talk therapy or counseling services, however, there are many that are. Often times, psychiatrists collaborate with other mental health professionals who provide psychotherapy so that the client receives the best possible care. Thus, it is not uncommon for someone to see both a psychiatrist for medication and a psychotherapist for talk therapy. 

Psychologist (Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D.)

         Psychologists have a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD, or EdD) in a field within psychology. Different fields include clinical, counseling, cognitive, and forensic psychology, among others. Most often, psychologists who offer counseling or psychotherapy obtained their degree in clinical or counseling psychology. Typically, psychologists complete their graduate training in 4-5 years, after which they must complete an internship, followed by post-doctorate training. Due to their level of training, in addition to psychotherapy, psychologists have the ability of administering psychological testing, such as IQ or personality tests. However, they are not medical doctors, and therefore cannot prescribe medication (with the exception of a few states in the U.S.). Many psychologists are also involved in research, given their extensive research training in graduate school.  

Mental Health Counselor (LMHC / MHC-LP)

         These are psychological counselors who have a Master’s degree in Psychology, Counseling, or a related field. After obtaining a Master’s degree, Mental Health Counselors need additional years (2-4 years) of experience in order to become fully licensed in their field. Professionals with a provisional license, still gaining experience after completing their graduate training, operate with a provisional license (Mental Health Counselor – Limited Permit). This simply means that they must practice under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional, such as a Psychologist or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). Like the professionals mentioned above, they provide psychotherapy and counseling but are not typically trained to administer psychological tests and cannot prescribe medication. They are qualified to evaluate and treat various issues people may be experiencing, such as depression, anxiety, and more.  

Clinical Social Worker (LCSW / LMSW)

         Similar to Mental Health Counselors, social workers begin post-graduate work under the supervision of a licensed clinician. After obtaining enough experience, Licensed Master Social Worker’s (LMSW) can opt to take an exam and become Licensed Clinical Social Worker’s (LCSW). Although there are various paths social workers can take, many choose case management services, hospitals, and private practice. They are qualified to provide psychotherapy and counseling. 

Psychoanalyst (LP)

         Among the other titles, you may come across Licensed Psychoanalysts (LP). After obtaining a graduate degree, many therapists choose to continue extensive training in particular modalities, such as psychoanalysis. These professionals study the work of Freud, among others, and typically work with the unconscious and how things manifest in the present. It is common for those in psychoanalysis to see their analyst around 1-3 times a week. Psychoanalysis can sometimes include laying on a couch, dream analysis, and free association to explore unconscious behaviors and thought patterns.

Are you looking for a psychotherapist? Tired of having to research different therapists with different qualifications?

Lucas Saiter is a Mental Health Counselor in Manhattan. He provides therapy for anxiety, depression, LGBTQ+ individuals, adjustment, as well as relationship and intimacy issues to help individuals take control of their life and make meaningful change. If you are looking for a therapist, contact Lucas Saiter today at 646.506.3832 or click here to schedule a complimentary phone consultation.

What is Generalized Anxiety?

First and foremost, it is important to understand that is it completely normal to experience occasional anxiety. From public speaking to test-taking, we all have different things that make us worry and anxious. Anxiety becomes an issue when it begins to interfere with your daily life in an excessive and irrational way.

Generalized Anxiety is a real disorder just like any physical one and it is very common in the United States. Typically, those dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) experience persistent, excessive, and what seems like uncontrollable anxiety. The important question to ask is: “Is my anxiety interfering with daily activities?” Anxiety is treatable and there are certain exercises that can help you manage your anxiety or reduce some of its symptoms. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Tip #1: Breathing Exercises

One way to cope with anxiety is by doing some mindfulness exercises. Mindful breathing is one that has shown positive results. When you begin experiencing anxious feelings or thoughts, take a moment to find a calm place where you can sit. Close your eyes and take deep, long breaths – focusing on the breath. Whenever you feel your mind begin to wander or a thought rushes in, return to the breath. You can even do this when you’re not feeling anxious. It can be done at any time, after waking up, before going to bed, or even on the subway. Although this may seem simple, it can often be a challenging exercise, but with practice can be a very rewarding experience. Many therapists utilize this technique and even have training in mindfulness-based therapy (which includes more than breathing).

Tip #2: Break the Cycle

Anxiety is often a result of a maladaptive pattern of behaviors or thoughts. Often people describe that once they begin feeling anxious, it is a downward spiral from there. Breaking this cycle is one way to prevent anxiety from becoming worse. Taking a walk and getting some air, doing a breathing exercise, or working out at the gym are a few ways to destress and break the cycle.

Tip #3: Psychotherapy and Medication

These have shown to have a significant, positive impact on anxiety. Although psychotherapy alone can often reduce anxiety, the combination of psychotherapy and medication (usually prescribed by a psychiatrist) helps many of those suffering from anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one type of therapy that is frequently used to treat anxiety, which is a relatively short-term therapy. If you feel that therapy is not enough, consider talking to your therapist about the possibility of medication. Psychotherapists often have referrals to local psychiatrists, which can take some of the burden off of the client to find a psychiatrist on their own.

Are you seeking ways to manage your anxiety?

Lucas Saiter is a Mental Health Counselor in New York City. He specializes in providing therapy to those struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and more. He works in an office located near Flatiron, West Village, NoMad, Chelsea, and Union Square. If you are looking for a therapist that specializes in anxiety, contact him today for a complimentary phone consultation.